By Trafalgar’s Editorial Team
This Content is Created By Kinga Burjan, M.A., R.P.
The Difference Between Our Thoughts and Feelings
Hi, welcome, thank you for joining me on your wellness journey. My name is Kinga Burjan and I’m a registered psychotherapist with Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers.
Today’s short video is understanding our thoughts and feelings. And for this video, the words feeling and emotion will be used interchangeably.
The difference between a feeling and a thought.
A feeling can actually be experienced in your body. So a lot of times, if you’re not sure what you’re feeling, if you’re not sure if it’s anger or sadness, disappointment, rather than jumping right to the feeling word you can go into “where do I feel it? In my body? Do I feel a pain in my heart or maybe in my gut or maybe my throat?
Feelings can actually alter your body temperature, increase your heart rate and even cause dizziness if they’re intense.
Once you get familiar with where the feelings are in your body, you can start attaching a feeling word to them.
So, one way is to use a feeling wheel that you can search on the Internet that has core feeling words such as angry and sad, and they break or branch off into other feeling words.
So, the more you are aware of your feeling vocabulary, the easier it’s going to be to start labelling a feeling word to those physical sensations you have in your body.
And what about our thoughts?
A lot of people confuse thoughts and feelings, and we’ll go into a little bit more detail about that.
A thought specifically refers to a mental process within your mind that’s focused on interpreting and processing information.
Thoughts help us formulate ideas, viewpoints and opinions.
How someone might frame fear in their mind?
One way to illustrate this is how someone might frame “fear” in their mind. For example, one person might have social anxiety due to a feeling of low self-worth and might fear social rejection, and that’s why they have social anxiety.
Another may have a fear of being humiliated and judged in front of other people. Both experience the emotion of fear. However, the reasoning or the thinking is different for each person.
Sometimes our thoughts can actually make it worse for us, and sometimes our feelings can make it worse for us. So if we have a thought and a severely intense emotion, this emotion can actually impact our thought. Or sometimes if we’re really stuck on negative way of thinking about something, it can negatively influence our emotion.
Sometimes our emotions overcome us
So although our thoughts are usually based on reason or logic, sometimes our emotion overcomes it or a challenging situation overcomes that thought or logic, and it can lead to an irrational way of thinking and rational cognitive distortion called emotional reasoning.
So if you ever notice your mind going to that emotional place and thinking for you through your feelings, this is great self-awareness. It’s not any reason to be upset at yourself. It is just an opportunity to go like “hey, wait a second, I’m feeling really emotional about this right now”.
And perhaps the way I’m feeling is influencing the way I’m looking at this. Perhaps I need to bring in more logic or evidence or reason to form a more appropriate thought based on the situation. Feelings sometimes can be very deep-rooted, and we might not exactly know what or why we’re having a certain feeling, but the more we’re aware of when these feelings come up, the easier it’s going to be to recognize what thoughts and situations or people might actually provoke this feeling to come up.
Thoughts and feelings can affect one another directly or indirectly, so it’s really important to notice how your feelings might be affecting your thoughts and your thoughts might be affecting your feelings.
For example, perhaps you thought about a person in quite a positive light and the next day you’re feeling sad. You’re not really sure, and your sad feelings might be influencing your thoughts about them. Perhaps you start thinking, oh, this person never liked me. How come they’re not reaching out to me today? They reached out to me every day but today they didn’t. So, today they must not like me.
Just to notice that, without emotional mind-affecting, all the evidence and not necessarily taking into account the other person’s situation, the fact that this person has contacted you every day and noticing that the brain is jumping to conclusions, making the conclusion that this person doesn’t like you anymore.
And also both thoughts and feelings can influence our behaviors. So knowing that we have an avenue to go and to change our thoughts or change our feelings can actually influence our behaviors and our choices.
Recognizing and managing our thoughts and feelings is a really important tool in self-awareness and self-growth.
Also, the more you’re aware of what’s going on inside of you and you can differentiate between your thoughts and feelings, the easier time you’re going to have communicating your thoughts and feelings when asked.
And just notice, sometimes some people ask, how are you feeling, you might go into a thought or viewpoint versus saying, I’m feeling happy today or I’m feeling sad today, that’s very normal. But the more you practice self-awareness, the more you’re going to realize when you mix up a feeling or a thought.
So to better recognize your feelings, the more we are self-aware and the more we actually use the language of feeling words to identify our feelings, the easier it’s going to be. By being able to isolate your feelings, use feeling words, you can actually develop a more accurate understanding of your thoughts. And also, when we have a big feeling like anger.
For example, there might actually be an emotion underneath, such as feeling hurt or being disappointed. So it’s important once we are familiar with that main feeling, to dig a little bit deeper and see if there’s anything else, any underlying feeling or thought that might be driving or adding to that intense feeling. And also using feeling languages will help improve your sort of communication skills and overall create healthier relationships.
So remember that increasing your emotional vocabulary and your self-awareness will go a long way in understanding how your thoughts and feelings impact your life. The more time you spend on being self-aware, the more control you will have in responding to situations rather than reacting to them.
Thank you so much for joining me today and be well.